Evaluation of potential internal target volume of liver tumors using cine-MRI




Four-dimensional computed tomography (4DCT) is widely used for evaluating moving tumors, including lung and liver cancers. For patients with unstable respiration, however, the 4DCT may not visualize tumor motion properly. High-speed magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) sequences (cine-MRI) permit direct visualization of respiratory motion of liver tumors without considering radiation dose exposure to patients. Here, the authors demonstrated a technique for evaluating internal target volume (ITV) with consideration of respiratory variation using cine-MRI.


The authors retrospectively evaluated six patients who received stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) to hepatocellular carcinoma. Before acquiring planning CT, sagittal and coronal cine-MRI images were acquired for 30 s with a frame rate of 2 frames/s. The patient immobilization was conducted under the same condition as SBRT. Planning CT images were then acquired within 15 min from cine-MRI image acquisitions, followed by a 4DCT scan. To calculate tumor motion, the motion vectors between two continuous frames of cine-MRI images were calculated for each frame using the pyramidal Lucas–Kanade method. The target contour was delineated on one frame, and each vertex of the contour was shifted and copied onto the following frame using neighboring motion vectors. 3D trajectory data were generated with the centroid of the contours on sagittal and coronal images. To evaluate the accuracy of the tracking method, the motion of clearly visible blood vessel was analyzed with the motion tracking and manual detection techniques. The target volume delineated on the 50% (end-exhale) phase of 4DCT was translated with the trajectory data, and the distribution of the occupancy probability of target volume was calculated as potential ITV (ITV Potential). The concordance between ITV Potential and ITV estimated with 4DCT (ITV 4DCT) was evaluated using the Dice's similarity coefficient (DSC).


The distance between blood vessel positions determined with motion tracking and manual detection was analyzed. The mean and SD of the distance were less than 0.80 and 0.52 mm, respectively. The maximum ranges of tumor motion on cine-MRI were 2.4 ± 1.4 mm (range, 1.0–5.0 mm), 4.4 ± 3.3 mm (range, 0.8–9.4 mm), and 14.7 ± 5.9 mm (range, 7.4–23.4 mm) in lateral, anterior–posterior, and superior–inferior directions, respectively. The ranges in the superior–inferior direction were larger than those estimated with 4DCT images for all patients. The volume of ITV Potential was 160.3% ± 13.5% (range, 142.0%–179.2%) of the ITV 4DCT. The maximum DSC values were observed when the cutoff value of 24.7% ± 4.0% (range, 20%–29%) was applied.


The authors demonstrated a novel method of calculating 3D motion and ITV Potential of liver cancer using orthogonal cine-MRI. Their method achieved accurate calculation of the respiratory motion of moving structures. Individual evaluation of the ITV Potential will aid in improving respiration management and treatment planning.